UNICEF committed to improve children’s welfare | Sunday Observer

UNICEF committed to improve children’s welfare

4 December, 2022

Inclusion, for every child, was the theme for World Children’s Day which was celebrated on November 20. World Children’s Day was initially established in 1954 by the UN General Assembly as Universal Children’s day to promote “international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.”

November 20 holds significance as it is on such a day the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child way back in 1959 and again it is on this date in 1989 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a legally-binding international agreement setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, irrespective of their race, religion or abilities.

The Convention is considered an important milestone simply because prior to its adoption there was no common agreement on the link between the welfare of children and the political, economic, and social power of the societies where they belong to. Being the first ever document in which the child is regarded as a subject in his or her own right, the Convention gives an assurance that children’s rights have no expiry date. They are universal and unending and children’s rights are rights that protect all persons under the age of 18.


UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Christian Skoog

A representative of UNICEF, Colombo in a brief interview with the Sunday Observer said that the CRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – that recognizes the human rights of children, defined as persons up to the age of 18 years.

“The Convention establishes in international law that States Parties must ensure that all children – without discrimination in any form – benefit from special protection measures and assistance; have access to services such as education and health care; can develop their personalities, abilities, and talents to the fullest potential; grow up in an environment of happiness, love, and understanding; and are informed about and participate in, achieving their rights in an accessible and active manner.”

Four core principles

The four core principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child include Non-discrimination (Article 2), the Best interest of the child (Article 3), the Right to life survival, and development (Article 6), and the Right to be heard (the views of the child) (Article 12).

The guiding principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in all actions concerning children; the child’s inherent right to life, and the State Parties’ obligation to ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child; and the child’s right to express his or her views freely in all matters affecting the child, with those views being given due weight.


The UNICEF Colombo elaborated on the achievements of the UNCRC which is enforced through ongoing monitoring by an independent team of experts called the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

“Governments, including Sri Lanka, which have ratified the Convention must submit reports on the status of children’s rights in their respective countries. The Committee reviews these reports and makes recommendations to the States. Where necessary, the Committee calls for international assistance from other governments and technical assistance from organizations like UNICEF.”

Where does Sri Lanka stand?

Sri Lanka which has accepted its last set of recommendations in 2018 following a constructive dialogue with the Committee, is required to submit the country’s next periodic report in August 2023.

“Importantly though, the recommendations must be regularly consulted to ensure that the State addresses key issues. Engaging with the recommendations provides the State with a continuous opportunity for self-assessment in realizing children’s rights and identifying any remaining gaps and challenges that need to be tackled in a changing context on the needs of children,” the UNICEF noted.

As UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Christian Skoog highlighted, the concluding observations of the CRC committee – a group of independent experts - are based on identified gaps and aimed at improving the welfare of children.

“It is therefore, critical that the key recommendations, are closely followed up and implemented so that the rights of every child are fulfilled,” he emphasized.

CRC concluding observations for Sri Lanka

The major CRC concluding observations for Sri Lanka are as follows

* Violence, including corporal punishment - Recommendations included the importance of adopting a comprehensive law that would prohibit corporal punishment in all settings and the need to introduce sustained education and social mobilization programs in order to change the general attitude towards this practice.

* Sexual exploitation and abuse - A major recommendation made was the necessary strengthening of the legislation criminalising child pornography, which is now extremely relevant in the growing digital context.

* Economic exploitation, including child labour - Noting that many children are economically active, including as street vendors and in agriculture, mining, and construction, and that children are reportedly trafficked for forced domestic work the Committee urged the strengthening of existing legislation and establishment of a strong component of the labour inspectorate responsible for monitoring child labour cases.

* Administration of juvenile justice - Recommendations highlighted the need for a comprehensive policy for juvenile justice, based on restorative practices and ensuring the best interests of the child are taken into account as a primary consideration and that the age of criminal responsibility be raised to accepted standards (at the time of the recommendations it was 8 years of age but it has now been raised to 12)·

* Reconciliation, truth, and justice - The Committee urged that the Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 be met in an effective and timely manner while ensuring that children be given a voice in the national reconciliation and transitional justice processes and be supported as victims, witnesses or claimants.